Thanks to Tom Gregg for the transcript below.

January 1, 2001 Talkback with Utrice Leid (The Svengali Episode)
 

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Key:

"u" stands for Utrice.
"c" stands for Caller.
"..." means that something was left out
"--" means that the speaker broke off in mid-sentence or was interrupted
"[  ]" brackets enclosing something are transcriber's comments, and they are also used to insert words that provide the proper context, but which the speaker did not actually say.
"(laughs)" speaker laughs
"(pause)" pause
"[sic]" means this is what it sounded like, it is not a typographical error
"*  *" asterisks surrounding a word means the word was emphasized

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January 1, 2001, WBAI, 99.5 FM, New York City.
"Talkback", 3-5 pm.  Part 1, the 3:00-4:00 hour.

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Begin Transcript

(Music)

Utrice Leid:  Right out of Cuba.  That was "Combai segundo"  with
... "Verso sparati" and _felicidad_ being the chorus there. Hello,
out there in radio-land, wherever you are on this day, it is the first day
of the new year, January the first, twenty oh one. I hope you are safe and
sound and healthy and coping (laughs) and ready to pick up from where we
left off with each other, Jeesh, just last week,  I'm Utrice Leid and this
is Talk back. I'm doing double duty today because, today being a holiday,
the regular host is not here. He'll be here tomorrow. I'm referring to
Hugh Hamilton who takes over from me. I'm, I'm not here officially. I
have, of course, resigned, owing to taking this new position as interim
general manager here. So. Officially resigning last week, here I am,
filling in for the host, who is enjoying his first vacation day. Uh,
hopefully, (not "hopefully", he will be with us tomorrow), and, uh, we go
back to normal. Well, the phone lines are open at 212 209 2900.  Much has
been said and I have many concerns  and, uh, we'll be talking.  At your
disposal, here I am. You're on the air. Hello. Hello?

caller:  Utrice, it's Dolores in Park Slope Brooklyn.

utrice: hello

c happy new year to you

u thank you very much same to you

c  I must be very blessed to get 2 doses of you in a day
because i'm sick with the flu

u (laughs) oh really

c i just wanted to say happy new year to you, I tried earlier

u thank you

c 'cause im not well.  but your mailbox is full and

u oh yeah

c I've been trying to reach you.  I'm from the library and I can't tell
you any more than that--

u All right and yes yes yes I know I know who you are

c so okay? okay I just wanted to say good luck to you and I am
sick with the flu and im blessed that i got you 2 doses of you
today.

u thanks so much Dolores

c and good luck to you

u thank you and happy new year

c thank you, Utrice.  We'll meet soon.

u I hope so

c take care

u take care

Utrice: hello, you're on the air this is WBAI

caller:  oh I'm very distressed

Utrice yes who's calling

caller This is Winter

u thank you

c yeah, (whimper) it's very frightening

u what is frightening?

c well, what's going on at WBAI. Uh there seems to be uh y'know
its kinda like people have backed themselves up against the wall
and there's no return. and, um, I really like Wake Up Call, I think
it's a treasure and, uh--  But I haven't had any kind of feedback on
what's gonna happen with it-- employees been terminated--

u yes

c And I don't want to get into that. I'm saying let's let's get on with
it. There's a, there's a very big threat here and the threat is, on one
hand, that putting you in place as intermin manager-- I, I, I,  heard you
this morning and I got even more afraid or frightened because I kep'
hearing you talk about quality, order, disciplint responsibility [sic],
and then I said, "who is she talking about? Is she talking about the
station or the staff?" Uh, I mean, I think the the the airwaves of WBAI
have been fine. I, I find the programming pretty good.  Uh, what, what,
what were you talking about, when you're saying there's, well, there's
unprofessionalism, there's terrible programs going on and then there was a
listener who called and agreed with you and I'm trying to figure this out,
what's going on?

u Well, again, I think if you've been listening to the tone, the tenor and
tone of certain programs, epecially in the past 10 days or whatever it is,
11 days, I don't even-- I've lost count. You will find that the level of
invective has just gone off the screen. And to me that is a signal of
irresponsible programming.  When-- It is one thing to have a difference of
opinion, but I find it uh really, really sad, that along with the
difference of opinion come the long knives. Where people just will not
relent until they are fully satisfied that they have carved up a body and
left it in a heap, (pause) and become cheerleaders for this kind of a
cannibalistic exercise. I dont think that that is  good programming, i
think that that is irresponsibile conduct and irresponsible behavior.

c I, I, I think that--

u And I've heard too much of that.

c But what I think I'm hearing is that people are absolutely
shocked, they're wounded, and its almost like a loss that's taken
place. I know I feel like I'm experiencing a loss. It's almost like a
death-and-dying issue. So especially when you have a family--  I mean,
you've marketed this show, or WBAI has marketed themselves as a family.

u Yeah

c and certainly--

u Kind of like an Addams Family--

c Whatever, but I mean and I--

u (laughs) a dysfunctional family.

c I don't wanna be derogatory toward the listeners.
However. What I'm saying is that there's a process.  Meaning that
when people are wounded and hurt, feeling a great sense of loss,
of course there's gonna be anger. Of course, there's gonna be
conflict. That's just human responses.

u I understand that that's human response.

c So why don't we talk about having a mediator coming in?  Why
don't we talk about somebody coming in and doing some healing
so that people can sit down and really get-- sit at the table and
talk?

u I believe that is important to do. But I still say that, just the
same, this level of grief consciously has been brought about by
irresponsible action.  That's my contention from the beginning.

c Utrice--

u This, this morass that we find ourselves in has been
manufactured by individuals, acting out of just blatant self-interest, and
who apparently had no particular hesitation in considering the conseqences
of their rash action. Their rash action being, declaring a war that now
they expect everybody to finish off.

c But how do we go about bringing the two camps together?

u There are no camps.  What has happened, again, is that there
are differences of opinion based on where we are. But I am still
focused on how we got ther-- here. That has been lost in the whole
discussion How did we get to this point?  And we got to this point
because a particular individual usurped the right, and unilaterally
declared war. And engineered a series of (pause) untruths into a
rationale for that war, carefully orchestrated a scenario that
*simply* does not exist.

c But I think that you have inside knowledge--

u Yes.

c --and you pretty much understand what you re talking about--

u And thats what I'm saying.

c --but you're talking about thousands upon thousands of listeners
who have not a clue--

u But this is what im saying.

c --in terms of what's happening.

u You're correct, and this is my point exactly.  Because of the
credibility of this one individual, for the most part, and, I, I'm very,
very clear that that individual has a great number of talents, but also,
in this particular instance, has served a most destructuve role, and it
has been lost in this whole discussion. This is how we ended up here. That
this one individual, who has enjoyed inordinate privileges, inordinate
consideration at this station, and who has had a pattern of taking
unilateral action that enmeshes this person's colleagues, again this is
such a circumstance. We have *one individual* who appears to, to, to
adhere steadfastly to the belief that it is *about* this one individual,
that it is not about anything else, and even if it means creating this
level of discord, creating this level of division simply to satisfy a
highly and intensely personal agenda, that is what that individual has
been prepared to do. That--

c But how are you going to govern?

u Well i was hoping--

c I'm listening to all this stuff and I'm saying to myself, "my God! How,
in terms of management style and management skills--?" Uh, yes, I do agree
with many of the the listeners:  how the method, the process-- how this
whole thing was handled-- was done very badly.  And so it really created a
real, real mess--

u But again--

c --and an aftermath and a bad taste in people's mouths.

u But Winter, if I may say so again. This is primarily the
responsibility, in my belief, of one individual (pause) who has
concocted an intricate web of lies.  Who has drawn into that web
individuals who very sincerely wished to express support.  But that
support was predicated on a web of lies, which, by the way, still
stands, and which has now--

c But how do we get from here, Utrice, how do we move from here?

u The, the first thing is to find out where "here" is. We can't move from
here until we define "here".  And "here" is the ongoing internal
contradictions that we have failed to address squarely; "here" is the
individual action of a person who believes that it is okay to be a self-
guided missile and that it is all right to expect individuals to come in
and clean up the mess caused by the detonation, uh, created as a result of
rash, unethical, and unprofessional conduct.  This has been a difficulty
internally. And now that that, uh, carefully orchestrated web, of lies,
has now been, um, uh, layered upon, we're now drawing into that web the
question of the dismissal, the termination  of the gneral manager, which
is completely unrelated, the question of KPFA, which is completely
unrelated, even the question of the functioning board, which is completely
unrelated to the situation at hand. Which is, no matter how u dice it,
*one* individual, *one* individual, unilaterally declared warn and now has
carefully orchestrated a situation in which we all are involved in
cleaning up the mess.  You--

c But I think you I think you all are at *risk* because I think--

u  Precisely.

c --because I think I think the issue here is that, if there's infighting,
what happens is that, yes, I think it's really (quaver in voice) very
strange, the types of people you have on your national board now days, and
I also think that these are marketing and corporate people who--

u But that is not--

c --have a certain vision and insight.

u Those may be relevant issues and they have been issues that
have been dealt with before, they will be issues that will be dealt
with again, but they are *not* (with regard to where we are,  the
"here" that you asked about) they are not intricately tied to the
*here*.  We got *here* because the contraditioncs are *here*. We
got *here* because people *here* brought us *here* and we have
failed, in any number of ways, over a series of years.  And we have
blown many opportunities, to rein this individual in, and to make it clear
to this individual that any action undertaken as an indivual has
collective impact and repercussions, and it is therefore incumbent upon
this individual to come clean.

c But Utrice, I don't think of one indivual-- I mean.  They could have set
the fire--

u ohhh (in a descending pitch of voice)

c --but now its out of hand.

u Well, exactly!

c What I'm saying at this particular point, I mean, I went to a
meeting the other day, and it was 1500 to 2000 people.

U Oh.

c I mean thats listeners, people that pu--, pu--, go into their pocket and
they pay--

u Sure

c --and pay your salary.  So what i'm saying is that these people
ha-- are are upset, they want to know what's going on here.

u The people can't be upset, the people have been *made* to be
upset. And this is what I, I say is tantamount, in my view, to a
crime! It is one thing to say that, you know, "there is a legitimate issue
here," but it is another thing to manufacture one entirely for--
absolutely *selfish* reasons, to *manufacture* situations that simply do
not exist and to engage in this kind of *nefarious propaganda*. And this
is what has happened.  Now people may be uncomfortable with that, they may
want to attribute this to COINTELPRO, the FBI, the CIA, Interpol and every
police, law enforcement community, and intelligence community out there.
The fact is, the fault line is right here, it has been here for a number
of years, it has been *ignored* for a number of years and it, time and
again, enmeshes us in having to put out brush fires that we as a
collective never have started.

c But I don't think this is a brush fire, I think this is a roaring--

u It--

c --roaring fire

u --it's a conflagration again that nobody here was ... given
permission to start and nobody here was consulted about how to
start a conflagration. An individual took it upon that indivual's own self
to start a fire. And to feed the fire, to fan the flames, to get listeners
riled up, because, (and this speaks to what I think is a contemptuous
regard to people's intellect) that,owing to someone's understanding of
their so-called credibity and its not even "so- called", its a legitimate
claim to credibility because of the work that you do, that you would
misuse it so, and get away with it, in broad daylight. I find that just
absolutely reprehensible, and even as I speak to you not *one* of these
individuals pointing fingers everywhere else has *dared* to point the
finger in the right direction.  Not one!

c but does it does it leave you in a situation that you're able to
govern at this point, that you're able to get the cooperation of the
staff, you're able to get the support of staff at this particular point?

u That, too, is a dilemma, because, again, I did not ask to be in
this position. I was minding my own business just 2 weeks ago,
trying to do the best that I could to produce a healthy program,
aimed at truly mutual education.   I have been thrust in this
position. And I'm not running away from that responsibility, I dont
*like* it, in fact I've made it very clear in meetings that I resent it
intensely that my concentration now has to be diverted for [sic] something
that--  *I* wanted to do.  And now I have to concentrate on  doing other
things, and retrieving whatever is left of our shattered selves is top on
the list and trying, as best we can, to hold things together to do the the
damaage control based on the unilateral action of *one person*. And this
speaks to the internal contradictions that I've pointed out, that have to
do with race, that have to do with conceptions and perceptions of power,
that have to do with sexism, that have to do even with nativism, all these
ugly things have now come to the surface

c That happens in any workplace and if youre an African-American
you should know that.

u well it may happen in any workplace but, again, the contradiction
is that we are suppsoed to be quote, progressive, unquote and I
have not seen this level of retrograde conduct in a long time, and
it's distressing.

...

u can we move on?

c just one thing, I think the definition of progressive in many cases is
that one strives to develop and create a democracy ... I'm not left with
that after what had [sic] happened.  I am just absolutely shocked because
I counsel people and I, I  hear them come into my office and tell me that
they've been terminated or tell me *how* they've been terminated or how
they've been escorted to the door by a security guard ... they were making
loads of money, they felt that they were just so devalued and that they
were not a human being.  And I've worked with people that its taken them
over a year or two to get themselves back together because they were
terminated...

u ...all the more reason again that I go back to where this all
began.  It all began with one individual, an out-of-control indivual, Who
believes that, even if it means that this entire station must be brought
down around our knees, that it is well worth it to vindicate that one
person's image of ego.  Thats the problem  ... thank you

c I just hope and pray that some miracle will happen because I
think it would be extremely difficult--

u Thank you very much thank you for your sentiments, (slight
pause) winter. Thanks so much. ... im UL the program is talkback
and you are on the air at 212-209-2900

...
c yes good afternnoon u

u good afternoon to you

c ...michak from the Bronx thank God I get you, cause
I been listening ever since all these things started taking place
and I listen to all the producers who come on and, uh,
there is only one producer who seems to stay neutral so far
in what's going on and that was uh uh david Rothenberg

u (silence)

c and you, you know he was trying to explain to us what he think
[sic], you know, was happening.

U:  uh-huh

C and he said, at one point, where you were elected to be program
director by a group of people, I don't know if it was the board or
whoever, but it was a democratic process that takes place, and
you were elected to be program director and uh the station
manager who, I think, was Valerie Van Isler at the time--

u Yes.

c Because you openly criticized her for some of her conduct in
terms of running this station, she decided ... by herself, to *veto* your
appointment.

u Yes

c and then hand over that position to uh the gentleman who I love...

u Bernard White

c ...my point is ... if a democratic process had take place [sic] and you
were appointed Program Director then why didnt it *stays* that way, and
why did she veto that position by herself?

u  well

c ...because I love both of you, you know, I love Bernard White but
I love you and I love BAI,

u I know

c And these program just keeps going on [sic]..these people keep
coming on and they're making these listeners hate you more and
more by, you know, either swaying the argument one way.  And, I
know you know what's going on there, but you're probably waiting
for the right time to tell us.

u That's correct.

c And, but, it seems that the listeners, you know, are, you know,
getting to the point where everybody just seem to be siding with
the group of people that--

u But they're all, ah, uh, their focus is off.

c Yeah, yeah, but...

u The one place they need to look, the one place that they must
desperately point to, everybody has astutely avoided, and that is
where the problem is. I know I'm in the minority taking this position, but
I think ...that people on the inside know. In talking to people, I am
convinced that they know where the problem lies, but, for some reason, the
problem is allowed to persist and the person responsible primarily for
bringing us to this exasperating point has yet to be confronted.  Has Yet
To Be Confronted.  The person continues to involve this entire staion and
its listenership in a war that *we* did not start---

c Yeah, I'm, that's my point, my point is...

u Let me respond in the particular thing that you raised.  Look, I'm a big
girl. I can take my lumps. The situation went down the way it went down
and its okay by me.  But what was not okay, because technically the
General manager... it is a rare thing, it is considered so rare .. almost
something that never happens-- that a committee would make a
recommendation that the General manager will set aside-- but okay! The
thing that was bothersome was, to me:  all right, you [Valerie] dont like
Utrice Leid, fine.  But I was not the only person recommended.  There was
a runner-up.  And the runner-up was also passd over and she was absolutely
qualified for the position.

c That's my point--

u And, and, and when the body politic here tolerates the abrogation
of what they call, everybody's flinging around the word process, you don't
like Utrice Leid, fine. You know, I've had my glory days. This doesn't
bother me. The thing is that behind me was a person who *should* have had
the job and who should have had the job as a result of her colleagues'
votes.

c ...so there is no democratic process there, from them...

u ...and not only that...the General manager, may I add, was
*ordered* to reopen the process and didn't...the people now who
are getting nosebleeds from being on such moral high ground
tolerated that. They tolerated it because it was in their interest to
overlook a flagrant violation of procedure.

c Right, so there was no democratic process. Why don't the
producers say that?  Instead of misguiding the listerners then
because... I love Bernard and I hope he comes back. But I would
also hope that these producers, you know, you know, tell the truth
instead of misguiding the listeners, and let them start to hate, to
hate you. It's so unfair, in my opinion, to be so one-sided on the
issue.

u ...again, the program that just ended that was just on the air
[Building Bridges, a program that was critical of Utrice]-- the
programmers passed by my office. Not one said, "we are
discussing you in great detail, would you like to sit in and lend your
view?" For all the people who have been preaching and bashing Utrice Leid
and Bessie Wash, not one has had the courage, not to mention the
courtesy.. to say "could we talk to you?"

c Yes, so we could hear on the air...the democratic process that
took place.. vetoed by one individual...

u It was not just vetoed by one individual, [but also] it was
countenanced, and tolerated, and embraced by all the people who
are yelling their lungs out right now.

c  That's what my point! [sic]...It's just amazing!...

u It just goes to prove that when people claim and extoll their liberal
credentials, you still have to... read between the lines and listen to
what is not being said... thank you...we'll be right back...

(End of first half hour--music break)

U:  ...you're on the air...

c: yes good afternoon... this is Joseph...you are a big girl and you can
talke a lot of lumps

u (laughs)

c there is so much that is not known,... come out here, get in the
fray, start throwing up your hands and stuff...they are saying all
kinds of stuff ... all this stuff is bogus, I believe that you do have
integrity, and I believe that the stuff ain't smelling right, so I think
you ought to just come out and blast a few folks...

u I really don't like the idea of joining people who are several uh,
levels beneath where it is I think they ought to be...I'm not into being
in the gutter...

c I've walked with you from Howard Beach, through Wappinger
Falls, through the City Sun, and we've even danced a little bit
together, but I'm saying, like, come on out and blast a few folks!

u (laughs) What would be the good?? the thing is--

c  I don' know, blast 'em anyway.

u ...the idea is, trying to get people together...

c Well. That's all I have to say, but I'm hoping that you come out
wit' a few kara-te [sic] kicks.

u (laughs)

c But I love Bernard White though

u I do too...

c Then that's all we've got to say

u ...This is the funny thing.  It is not about Bernard White... it is not
about Valerie Van Isler.  It is about an individual who is out of control
and has been for *years* at the station and whose actions have now
resulted in the termination of Bernard White...and Sharan Harper.

c ...I think Pacifica, and I understand that WBAI is, as you said, is
Pacifica, but I think that Pacifica is dangerous, and I think their intent
is untoward.

U Well, let me put it this way. We are Pacifica, and whatever the
intent is, the fact is, we've always had it within our power to
assume a significant degree of control over what happens here.
We have had poor management, mismanagement, no managment,
in some instances for a long time. And that has made us
vulnerable to all the things that would be the natural byproducts of the
absence of insightful leadership.  We lost, we, we suffered a serious blow
with the death of Samori Marksman.

c Get on the board and infiltrate Pacifica then.

U No, i-, It's not about the board. I'm saying that our problems
started with one individual, and that individual knows who it is! And
several of us here know who it is, but no one, for some reason, has been
able to confront that individual squarely and say: "you are largely the
reason that we are in this mess . Had it not been for you telling lies,
had it not been for you manufacturing something that isn't true, and
putting layers and layers of lies on top of that, and drawing into this
web, this so-called conspiratorial web, things that are totally unrelated,
had it not been for the fact that you are out of control and have been for
a long time, and efforts to *discipline you* and create a structure for
you within which you can reasonably operate like *anybody else*--"

c  Point 'em out, point 'em out, tell us.

u Well, it's coming, it is coming, I dont want to go there, but it is
coming...

...

u thank you, hello you're on the air...

c Hello, this is Kevin from Brooklyn, I'm a listener of Wake Up
Call...the intrigue of this Svengali that you've been speaking of
today is very new to a lot of us listeners. I think the, one of the
keys that we are very concerned about, I personally, is the change
in Wake-up call, something that we support, we pay for, we rely
on.  And you just said that you loved Bernard White...he's a critical
component of the community that I consider myself a part of.  And I've
been following this, uh, this crisis lately and in an interview with
Bessie Wash I believe she took responsibility for the terminations but
she--

u Yes.

c But she made it clear that you have the power to rehire them and
is that
something youre willing to do?

U Well, let me be clear about what was said.  I do care for Bernard
White,
he knows it.  We've had major differences of opinion, we have had
even a
personality clash or two. But I was hoping that he would have
sensed
that...whatever the differences we have, as individuals, with each
other
... I have not taken them outside of this staion, they remained here.
 And
I have done him that dignity, that I have retained within these walls
everything that I need to say or express about Bernard White.  That has
not been a reciprocal arrangement, and certainly from the last several
days, if ever there was a window open to assist the situation, he closed
it firmly, by his conduct, again emanating [sic] the same pattern of the
individual who started this war in the first place.  A disciplinary action
is taken. Well, you're a grown person, take your lumps go off in the
corner some place and lick your wounds and come back fighting.

c Was that termination, was the disciplinary action?
...

u Yes...

c ..I've done management before and that [termination] is
something we try
to avoid--

u Yes, it's an extreme. But you must also say, as extreme as it
was, it
must have been triggered by something equally extreme.  I mean,
wouldn't
that be the ratonale?

...

c  We try to avoid termination at all costs.

...

u ... we try to avoid termination, but if it must come dramatically,
chances are the reason for it is equally dramatic, do you agree or
diagree?

c oh, that sounds right.

u ok

c but the reasons have not been public...

u The reasons have not been made public by the individuals, but I
am not
going to do that.  That is not something that I would do. That is
considered, in my view, highly confidential information, I will not
reveal
those reasons because it is up to the individuals.  They have gone
public,
not me.

c Will you rehire them?

u ...there are procedures to be followed, the grievance procedure
will be
followed and exhausted, and we'll see how that turns out.  That is for, in
the case of Sharan Harper, my former union shop steward, fellow shop
steward, there are grievance procedures that apply in her case, and she
should take *strong* advantage, and *full* advantage, of those procedures.
 With regard to Bernard, who is a management person, he does not have the
same protections.  And so his, uh, uh, process is different, he will have
to seek redress in another way.

c ... Bessie Wash said quite clearly... you, Utrice Leid had the power to
hire them now.

...

u ...don't start amending!  The word "now" was not in there.

c But you have the power, but it's subordinate to this process.

u Sure, and I think that's fair. If you were management, what would you
do?...

...

u Let's put the scenario as hypothetically....  Your superior has
terminated someone who is your subordinate.  But your superior says
because you are an in-, the incoming head of a unit, it is up to you to
make a call on whether the person comes back or not. What would you do?

...[boring discussion for clarification of exactly what the conditions of
the hypothetical situation are]...

c ...I'd rehire, and we'd work out our problems in a reasonable, rational
way... I don't think that termination is something that should be taken
lightly, and if there's a chance of bringing people back in...

u Do you think it is it's a sensible approach to manage both at the same
time?  To determine the validity of the charge and to manage the return of
individuals under contentious circumstances?  As a manager, do you think
that these 2 things undertaken simultaneously make sense?

c It can be done...if someone's in danger from a coworker or something
like that, you exclude them from the premises, but if it's merely that
there's some kind of problem with internal process, then of course, you
want the people who have been victimized by that to be present to kind of
try to correct it.

u Well, (mirthfully) let's just say that we differ in mgt styles.
(Seriously again) I would say that the best approach is to have the
process take care of the immediate situation of resolving the *validity*
of my superior's action.  If it is not valid, we will know. And if it is
valid, we will know. And in either case, the remedies would be absolutely
clear, and then we can go from there.

c ...if the process shows that Bernard and Sharan have done nothing wrong,
will you rehire them?

u *If they have done nothing wrong*, we shall see.  [This was said with a
complex emotional tone, hard to interpret].

...

u I'm very aware of the power that I have to do what I have to do, or what
I can do.  I'm very aware of that.  I'm interested in: "let's take the
steps that are there to be taken, let's follow the process..."

c How can we bring everyone together?

u We will see how things turn out.

...

c There's no transparency right now.

u  What do you mean...?

c ...We still don't know why anyone was fired...

...

u ...You will never know from my lips why anyone was fired.  You will
never know it.  I ain't gonna say it.  And I ain't gonna say it because I
think it's an infringement upon anyone's right to privacy... let's say you
were fired for incompetence, that you should be the  subject of discussion
all throughout the nation that Joe Doaks was so incompetent we just had to
fire him?  Would that make you feel good?

c Well, I wanna know, would you rehire them?

...

u  I gave you the answer... repeating the answer doesn't make it any more
clear.

...

c No, I wanted just to-- succinctly, it was a very protracted answer that
you gave--

u Well if you did-- I give the answers the best way I can, to make myself
abundantly clear.  Thanks for calling, Kevin.

c Can you just point out who the "Svengali" is?

u No.

c So again, no transparency.

u Why is that [going to the issue of] transparency?

...

c I am a part of a 40-year tradition of supporting WBAI...

u Have you had transparency before on WBAI?  I'm asking.

c well there's never been this kind of radical change..

u oh really? is that correct?

c in my experience

u according to the programming, there have been any number of dramatic
changes, at WBAI,...

c at wbai

u at wbai... You just heard about the PD [?], that was a dramatic
change... the situation in 1977... why is transparency of the greatest
importance *now* and why is it being demanded of *me*? ... have you
demanded transparency from everybody else?  The program that just preceded
this one, did you demand transparency there?

c well, you, are, I believe, the interim Station Mgr, so that is a very
critical role...

u You will agree that I began the job just last week, or just this week,
officially, I have taken matters into my offical hands?

...

u in the program just preceding this one where individuals were sharing
information that warranted, in my view, transparency, did you demand it
there?

c ...I certainly will, as this story unfolds... I am particularly
concerned with the termination of people I listen to every morning...it
would help us listeners to have a transparent process...

u In fact, you know, the funny thing is, that since coming to WBAI,
transparency is what I've been carping about... "Let the budget be
transparent," "let the process be transparent," "let people's (connections
with all kinds of things) be transparent." I've been trying to get
transparency for a long time ... The difficulty here is *one individual*
who began this war that placed us in this morass.  Now, again, I will
rather not become involved in a battle ... I would not like to descend to
the level where I think this discussion has gone, but if it helps to make
things clearer then I will do so...

c well I

u Thank you.

c ... there are people who we care for who have been terminated, there is
this internal Svengali or disruptor, why couldn't you have just fired the
disruptor and saved the people who--?

u But you-- this is one of the characteristics of a Svengali or disruptor.
 One of the things is, great care that is taken, simply to escape
detection, and secondly, camouflage, and thirdly, manipulation, so that
you are hearing the voice by proxy, you are seeing the actions by proxy,
but you're not seeing the actor, and you are not seeing the speaker. okay?

c So you don't have the power to fire this so-called Svengali, apparently?

u Did you-- why did you just come to this conclusion?

c I (laughs) assume that as a manager if there is this glaring problem
then you will eliminate it, as a, I mean, a lot of us are concerned
about.. Wake Up Call and bringing him back...

u It's not about "bring him back." It's about letting the process go
through the permutations that it ought to go through, and, once that is
done, we will see what that dictates the next step will be. And I think
that's okay, I think that's reasonable considering the circumstances...
thank you very much, Kevin, for your call.

(break music-- "you are no one's slave")

u Indeed, you are no one's slave.  Physically or intellectually.  you are
your own person, you are supposed to be doing your own thinking.  That is
the message we have held to, right here on Talk back: the gathering place
for exchange of information, opinions and ideas. The number to call is
212-209-2900, I'm Utrice Leid and tomorrow...

--------------------------------------------------
end transcript of first hour.
--------------------------------------------------
begin transcript second hour (thanks to Kathy Kattenburg Astor for transcribing this section)
--------------------------------------------------------

Utrice:  ---212-209-2900, and tomorrow, of course, Hugh Hamilton, who will be at the helm here on Talk Back, resumes his rightful place. Hello, youíre on the air.Hello? Nobodyís home. Okay, okay. Letís try this one. Hello, youíre on the air.

Caller: Utrice, happy new year.

Utrice: Fine, thank you; whoís calling?

Caller: You can refer to me as Norman.

Utrice: [chuckling] What do you refer to you as?

Caller: No one.

Utrice: [laughing] Thank you.

Caller: Okay. You know, Utrice, Iím a long-time listener to WBAI, certainly a member of the station that has contributed literally thousands of dollars, and when...youíre going to receive a copy of a letter from me, and so youíll know who I am--when I do that youíll know my name. You certainly have on record that I have contributed thousands of dollars over the years, which is probably miniscule in comparison to some people who can afford to give a lot more. However, ... I also knew Samori Marksman and Iíve gotten a chance to know Bernard White, and Iíve met you, on occasion. But, you know, even when talking to Samori on several occasions--I can even remember one time when this other station manager--I forgot her name; not station manager but executive director, I think--her name was Pat...Scott, or something like that--

Utrice: Yes. Pat Scott.

Caller: Pat Scott. Right. She wanted to fire Valerie--Van Isel?

Utrice: Van Isler.

Caller: Isler, Isler, correct. Because a lot of folks I can remember talking to Samori; a lot of people had problems with Valerie that long ago. And he said that she wanted him to participate in the firing of Valerie, but this guy, this brother said no. And I know as a fact--and Iíve certainly heard it from his mouth, numerous times--he didnít get along with her. And he didnít necessarily like her. And, uh, but he did not want to take part in the firing of her by anyone from Pacifica. And I donít know if youíre privy to that; Iím sure that-- Iím sure that; as a matter of fact, I know that you were. And, uh, but yet, the reason was that he didnít want to leave the door open for Pacifica to come in, because he would certainly not be able to do some of the things that he had planned to do in the future, but yet, this in fact has happened, and you have participated in it, by going along with Patricia; I mean Bessie Wash, is that correct?

Utrice: No.

Caller: Okay. All right. Okay.

Utrice: Itís not; and let me explain.

Caller: Okay.

Utrice. You are correct that Samori Marksman--and others--on the management team here at WBAI for years had been asking that there be a change in management here at the studio. Samori himself was the author of a vote of no confidence here at the station in the general manager and he did wish a change of leadership. He did wish a management change. What he wanted was in fact what was delivered, not by Pat Scott but by Bessie Wash, which is a graceful exit. He did not want Valerie Van Isler to just be thrown out of the door. What he wanted--and Iím telling you because I know what happened--

Caller: Okay.

Utrice: What he suggested was that she be transferred to an area where her skills could be better used, and that was the offer. In any event, intervention was sought, because every means available to dislodge an ineffective management seemed to fail.

Caller: Okay.

Utrice: And that was what he offered. He said, ďCould we have a scenarioĒ-- because in any event only the executive director can hire or fire a general manager; only an executive director; not the board, but only the executive director. And thatís why he and others, including Bernard, and Mario Murillo, and others, met with Pat Scott to discuss ways in which there could be a change in management here, but not in a disgraceful manner; to give a graceful exit. Pat Scott did not deliver. But Bessie Wash did.

Caller: Okay, now wait a--

Utrice: Wait, let me finish.

Caller: Okay.

Utrice:  Bessie Wash did by extending what I consider a lifeline, saying, Weíll give you an increase in your salary. We would create a new position for you--which, by the way, is nothing to sneeze at--the director of national programming. We will pay for your commute to Washington, D.C. three days a week. You can stay two days a week here in New York. And we will shift you--it is not a lateral shift; it is in fact a promotion--we will put you in this place where you will probably function much better. And she said this to a person who had reached a particular age in life; if you know the real world, when you reach a particular age in life, as a black woman in this society your options become extremely limited. This was not just sprung on the general manager two hours before it happened. As far back as June, she was on notice, but, following the advice of particular individuals, she turned it down; was offered an opportunity to reconsider it, turned it down again.

Caller: Could that individual be Bernard White?

Utrice: No.

Caller: Okay.

Utrice:  No.

Caller: Okay.

Utrice:  Although I know she discussed it with him.

Caller: Okay.

Utrice:  But the advice she followed was not his.

Caller: In regards to Bernard White being fired--

Utrice:  Yes.

Caller:  Bernard is a person that over the years--

Utrice:  Valerie Van Isler was offered this opportunity three separate times. And she turned it down each time, so she basically self-destructed...

[inaudible because of crosstalk]

Caller: ...bumped upstairs; they do that to an ineffective coach; they bump that person up into management.

Utrice:  Even so, given the option of simply being terminated or being bumped upstairs, what would you take?

Caller: Well, it depends.

Utrice: [with a laugh] What would you take?

Caller: Well, it depends on my situation. I donít know what her situation is. I mean, certainly some people would go down to D.C.; others would rather just try and stay and fight it, if theyíre comfortable with being where they are. I mean, certainly I couldnít speak for her. I donít usually have those options as a black man.

Utrice:  Well, thatís what Iím saying. The options donít exist either for black women.

Caller:  Okay, but one person in regards to Bernard, who has helped certainly build the station and is responsible for loads of people contributing to the station-- I donít know how important folks like me have a little bit of money and contribute to the station for the premiums and everything else year after year and go into a little debt, forget to even write it off to our tax even-- I donít know how much we really *mean* to the station, but--

Utrice: Obviously you mean a lot. Well, but if youíre building a case that your like or dislike for any one individual should outweigh the actions of that individual, I donít think you have a good case.

Caller: No, itís not even about that at all.

Utrice: What is it?

Caller: Iím just raising the question about the firing of someone that has been responsible for literally generating loads of money to the station, building the station, and supposedly just [inaudible] ... I understand even by someone whoís up there with you who...that was kind of made privy to what was happening and theyíre kind of sorry for, they did not know it was going to result in Bernard and Sharan being fired. They told me that the station was in deficit of well over two hundred thousand dollars over a year or so ago and now itís sort of in the black a little bit.

Utrice:  No, it isnít. Not if you really analyze. Again, you know, itís propaganda. You know, people say, Well, we were in deficit. Well, I guess in strict terms we were in deficit, except we never knew, because we never saw the books. We have no clue to this day how the claim of deficit was justified. Nor do we have a clue to this day how the claim of surplus is justified. But we do know certain things. One is that you would naturally tend to have a surplus if you hired no one to fulfill jobs that went begging for more than a year. You will have a surplus if, for example--

Caller:  Regardless, if itís a surplus, itís a surplus.

Utrice:  No, itís not, because it came at the expense of workersí rights.

Caller:  Oh, at the expense of workersí rights.

Utrice:  Thatís correct. A surplus is a surplus; yes, you would say so, but a surplus that comes as a result of people, for example, having jobs that are hourly, or part-time, so as to avoid medical benefits; a surplus that comes about because equipment is not replaced and upgraded--

Caller: Was Bernard White a part of that?

Utrice: If youíre a management team, if youíre part of the management team, thatís what happens. And again, part of the responsibility of the management team is the transparency that the previous caller had talked about. We have had no transparency with regard to the budget at all--none. Not even the second in command was able to-- In fact, not even the chairperson of our-- the finance committee of our advisory board was ever able to give a financial report. We had *no* mechanism for accounting--

Caller: But you know something? Did you ever receive a copy of the financial report when Samori was there?

Utrice:  No-- Yes! We received something approximating a report.

Caller:  Yeah, but you didnít-- It wasnít like it was a--

Utrice:  But you see, we had, at that time when Samori was here, we also had a business manager who took her duties seriously, and who was, in fact, very much involved in the transparency of the budget, and who summarily also was--should I say?--ďencouragedĒ to leave.

Caller: Is this why Bernard was fired?

Utrice:  No. Not to my knowledge. Because that goes back some way.

Caller: I mean--

Utrice:  But Iím saying-- [crosstalk]... But letís concentrate on this. Youíre talking about why Bernard was fired, and Iím saying to you, Iím very uncomfortable discussing the why anybody-- if-- you know, why anybody is fired.

Caller: The way-- the pernicious way in which this thing went about--

Utrice:  Could it-- Could it possibly be, and Iím just asking the question...

Caller:  Okay. Could it, could it have been done any easier than this?

Utrice: Let me *ask* you. Could it possibly be that whatever was done was egregious enough to warrant a dramatic action? Could it possibly be? If remote, could it possibly be that whatever was done was egregious?

Caller: Well...I mean, I mean, I mean, certainly, it could be quite remote. I mean, I donít know if he was a terrorist, if he had plans to blow the station up...

Utrice: Now come on, now; now come ON, now come *on* now; youíre all the way out *there* in la-la land. You were a rational discussant up until this point. Letís keep it in the realm of the rational. All right?

Caller:  I donít know the actual policies.

Utrice:  But Iím saying, in your mind, you have outlined all these things that are known. Bernard has been here for a long time; Bernard has been an extraordinarily important part of the station--no question.

Caller: I mean, I think heís one of the people thatís resulted in the station continuing the way it has been over the years, and it certainly has--

Utrice: In the last two-- In the last-- Oh, say in the last year, and a half--

Caller:  But just in his programming, and just in his fundraising--

Utrice:  Sure.

Caller:  I mean, Utrice, I can remember when you boycotted the fundraisers and a couple of fundraisers--

Utrice:  No, no, no, no, no, no....

Caller:  One fundraiser...

Utrice:  One fundraiser....

Caller:  And you came in at the very end--

Utrice:  And now ask me why. No, now ask me why. Now ask me why. Now ask me why.

Caller:  But what Iíd like to ask you--

Utrice:  I-- Now youíre talking record; do you know, do you not know me as being one of the most enthusiastic fundraisers this station has seen in a long time.

Caller:  When youíre there--

Utrice:  Yes or no?

Caller:  When youíre there--

Utrice:  [splutters]...When else am I gonna-- yes! I am the person, in fact, when Samori Marksman did his impossible drive--by the way he was discouraged from going for a million by none other than the general manager, who told him not to do it--but, when it happened, I was at the helm, I brought it home.

Caller:  No, no, I, listen--

Utrice:  I have been, and will continue to be, an enthusiastic fundraiser for this station, because I believe in it so.

Caller:  But when you boycotted it--

Utrice:  No, no; donít tell me about boycotting; it is not about the boycotting. Iíll tell you what it was; am I allowed to explain.

Caller:  Yes, you are. You are. Your station.

Utrice:  We had no plan. We had no structure, and nobody knew what was going on. I do not operate that way. Iím a finicky kind of person; I like plans. I like structure. I like to know that if we are going to do something called fundraising, that there is some degree of preparation; there was none for that drive.

Caller:  But Utrice, you were working for....You had a boss, didnít you? Iím gonna use the term boss.

Utrice:  Yes.

Caller:  Your direct boss was who?

Utrice:  My direct boss?

Caller:  At that time.

Utrice:  Rosemari Mealy.

Caller:  Okay.

Utrice:  Yes.

Caller:  And over Rosemari?

Utrice:  Came Bernard.

Caller:  Okay. Now. Those were your, if you want to use it in these terms, your, your employment superiors, correct?

Utrice:  Yes, yes, correct.

Caller:  Okay. Now....You could have been brought up on some charges for not participating, correct?

Utrice:  Sure. Absolutely. I was fully prepared for that.

Caller:  Okay. Right. But...and perhaps Bernard could have perhaps fired you?

Utrice:  Itís possible.

Caller:  Right.

Utrice:  Yes.

Caller:  He chose not to do that.

Utrice:  No, he [stammers] didnít *choose* not to do it.

Caller:  Well, he did. I mean, it resulted, I mean, no one...they didnít bring you up on charges for that.

Utrice:  How could they bring me up on charges? For? For? For? For?

Caller: [inaudible]... for not participating in the fundraiser when everyone else is working their tails off.

Utrice:  First of all, no, the thing is, not that people are working their tails off; it is *required*; some degree of planning is required.

Caller:  But see--

Utrice: No, no, no ďbut seeĒ! You cannot tell me, you cannot hold me to a standard that says that it is the job--  to-- I am supposed to go out and do a job that has not been defined.

Caller: No, but you participated in successful fundraisers in the past--

Utrice:  Absolutely, because there were plans, and it was a logical thing to do. These things were planned. Samori Marksman devoted none less than a year in planning of marathon drives. This was not some casual endeavor to him. He invested intense concentration and effort in pulling off successful drives. It happened in this one particular drive there was no plan. And anybody who tells me that there was probably did not talk to the people I talked to, including my immediate supervisor, who said, to me, that not only wasnít there a plan, but she was never consulted in anything having to do with a marathon. She did not know what was going on. And she wasnít the only one. I consulted other heads of departments; they didnít know what was going on.

Caller: But when people have jobs, you know your, your, you have a nice, sweet job that folks look up to, that folks look up to you....

Utrice: Is that right?

Caller:  Right?

Utrice:  Is that right?

Caller:  Oh yes; come on!

Utrice:  What is a nice sweet job?

Caller:  I mean, youíre in a position where you can--

Utrice:  No, what is the nice sweet job that youíre talking about?

Caller:  Itís a job that, where a person enjoys what theyíre doing.

Utrice:  You think....Is that a nice sweet job?

Caller:  And I know that you, you enjoy being on the air--

Utrice:  I enjoy what I-- Yes, I enjoy what I do.

Caller:  You enjoy being on the air. You enjoy your program.

Utrice:  Sure, I do. I absolutely love it.

Caller:  You say that daily.

Utrice:  Yes, I love this program.

Caller:  If you were working in a bakery, you were a baker, and a baker enjoys what heís doing, thatís a sweet job for that person.

Utrice:  Yeah. It doesnít nearly pay, but I love it.

Caller:  Right. But you, but you certainly, you love your job; you have a sweet job for you.

Utrice:  Yes. I do.

Caller:  Right.

Utrice:  And itís because I do that I, I think--

Caller:  And I enjoy your show.

Utrice:  I think listeners are to be treated with greater respect. I think listeners deserve preparation. I think listeners deserve the highest standards possible.

Caller:  Right. But because that did not happen this...at that particular time, in your mind...

Utrice:  I will tell you what happened.

Caller:  In your eyes.

Utrice:  No, not in my mind, in my eyes; it was what happened, period.

Caller:  Yeah, but if you have a boss and your boss says, listen, this is your job....Look, I donít like the way you planned this thing, therefore, Iím not going to participate, this time.

Utrice:  I said that. I said that.

Caller:  You think, Whoa. Your boss can say, Well, damn. Letís get rid of you.

Utrice:  Sure. That was perfectly an option.

Caller:  And Bernard White didnít say, Look, even though Iím having a serious personality conflict--

Utrice:  This is not a personality conflict; this is about how you do effective--

Caller:  Iím gonna get rid of you....Even though youíre probably good for the station, Iím gonna get rid of you.

Utrice:  Thatís fine.

Caller:  He did not do that.

Utrice:  No, he didnít. But that was his option. [Pause] You know, thereís a parking spot near my house, and depending on where, which way the wind blows, the arrows point, the arrow points in one direction or the other, now if you park when the arrow is pointing in a funny direction, you know youíre risking a ticket. Now Iíve parked there so many times and I got there one morning just to find the police officer completing, just polishing off a ticket. And I said, ďHow could you do this to me? I park here all the time; I never got...I park here!Ē And he says to me, simply, ďToday is different.Ē And I canít argue with that. I, in fact, broke out in laughter because it was so-- He got me. Iíd been getting away with all of that, all the time. Today is different. There may be a situation in which people have been getting away with things all the time. But somebody decided that today is different.

Caller:  But you know, if I counted all, if I mean anything to you and the station, people like me, there are literally, the majority of your listeners think along the same lines that Iím thinking; they are thinking what I am thinking--

Utrice:  Fine.

Caller:  And, also this: You know, I can remember when Emhotep Gary Bird was, when he left W--whatever.

Utrice: LIB.

Caller:  Yeah. LIB. And certainly people loved Gary Bird. He brought a lot to that station. But you know--

Utrice:  In fact, I was one of the people who championed--

Caller:  I know you were. And Iíll say that publicly. Youíre a friend of his. I know that you are, because heís a friend of mine, and heís a friend of Bernardís and everybody-- People love him, just like they, they certainly love you, too. And they *love* Bernard. But the difference is, I see, that these BAI listeners are different, and theyíre not gonna *forget* about the firing. They think the firing of Bernard White and Sharan Harper as something that is very mean-spirited, and I donít think that theyíre-- And the reason why theyíre not going to forget about it, and you will see, next time you have a fundraiser--

Utrice:  Hereís what I see.

Caller:  Whatís that?

Utrice:  The firing of Bernard and Sharan Harper was a byproduct of the work of one individual who enmeshed them

 [Caller expresses conviction that the individual is Valerie; his exact words canít be heard through Utrice]

Utrice:  No, itís not.

Caller:  Itís not Valerie?

Utrice:  No, itís not. Whether they agreed, or whether they were conscious that they were fitting into this or not, I do know that enough of an effort was made to alert Bernard that he needed to rethink where he was.

Caller:  Or he would be fired.

Utrice:  Just to rethink where he was. And where he was headed. A number of individuals--a number of his colleagues--attempted to just pull his coat. And, one of them said to me--in fact, one who was on the air with him just last Friday--said, he stopped listening a long time ago. Thatís what he said. And...he was beyond reach. Beyond reason.

Caller:  Did you talk to him?

Utrice:  Sure.

Caller:  And did you tell him that thereís a possibility that, Iíve been speaking to Patricia, I mean to Bessie Wash, and sheís gonna be--

Utrice:  No, no, no. She was nowhere near the picture.

Caller:  I mean, obviously you had to talk to him prior to being fired--[the rest inaudible because Utrice starts talking]

Utrice:  Sure, absolutely, and that is my point. This has been the result of an individual who since October--since October--has been on this campaign...to manufacture a philosophy and a reality that simply did not exist. Simply to extricate--

Caller:  I hear that, I hear that [inaudible] and I have narrowed different people down....

Utrice:  Well, Iím not calling any names. We are clear it is not Bernard. We are clear it is not Valerie Van Isler, we are clear it is not Sharan Harper.

Caller:  Utrice, you are a person that cuts right to the chase. Go right to Bernard. Bernard, listen, weíve had our problems.

Utrice:  I did that.

Caller:  In the past, I talked to Patricia--I mean, not Patricia, Bessie Wash--and this could result in you being fired. You didnít fire me when I didnít participate in fundraisers because I thought that the planning was raggedy--

Utrice:  No, no, no, no, no, no. No, he knew that. He was not in a position to fire me.

Caller: --Therefore, Iím gonna let you know, you did that for me, I donít want to see you get fired either, even though we have our differences--

Utrice:  But he was not in a position to fire me then. He was not in a *position* to fire me then.

Caller:  Would Bernard have fired you?

Utrice:  Huh?

Caller:  Would Bernard have fired you?

Utrice:  Probably not, but he was not in a position to fire me. Let me put it that way. He was not in a position to fire me. Because, there was reason for what it is I was saying. And it was a truth.

Caller: You know, someone thatís up there in the daytime told me that Bernardís things were being rummaged through.

Utrice:  Well...

Caller:  This week. Why did you let something like that happen?

Utrice:  Why would you think that it did?

Caller:  His personal things, they were telling me.

Utrice:  They were being packed, yes.

Caller:  And these are people that, [inaudible] talk to you every day....

Utrice:  Sure. They were packed.

Caller:  And they would be afraid for *their* job if I told you who it was. [crosstalk, inaudible]

Utrice:  It doesnít matter, but again...

Caller:  You understand what Iím talking about.

Utrice:  They could not be ďrummagedĒ through, because, again, nobody-- first of all, the office, once it was sealed, it was sealed. It was entered into solely to pack his personal belongings.

Caller:  I could even tell you what day it was, that this happened.

Utrice:  Iím sure, you can; I could tell you, too. I was right there. *And* being supervised. This was not done by one individual; it was done with people who were supervising every minute of that process.

Caller:  It was some UAM guard, United African Movement, security people.

Utrice:  Theyíre not *guards.*

Caller:  Theyíre not-- Theyíre *friends* of mine! Utrice!

Utrice:  Theyíre friends of mine. Theyíre friends of mine.

Caller:  Right.

Utrice:  So?

Caller:  I mean, I love [inaudible]

Utrice:  Did you, did you show up here to protect the station?

Caller:  I didnít think there was anything that was gonna happen....

Utrice: Well guess what? Guess what?

Caller:  What?

Utrice:  Youíre thinking wrong!

Caller:  No, I heard you said that there could-- you heard that there was gonna be a threat where somebody was gonna come up and possibly destroy some equipment.

Utrice:  And other things, yes.

Caller:  Well, I understand youíd maybe like to prevent that from happening [inaudible]

Utrice:  And did you show up to do your tour of duty?

Caller:  Did I show up to do it?

Utrice:  Yeah. Did you show up to do your tour of duty?

Caller:  You know, because thereís a list; I could never get in there!

[Utrice laughs.

Caller: My name wasnít on the list!

Utrice:  All right. Look.

Caller:  You had to be on the list!

Utrice: Norman?

Caller:  Yes?

Utrice:  Youíre all right by me.

Caller:  I know that, I mean--

Utrice:  Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot for your call. Thanks a lot. This is WBAI, 99.5 FM in New York. Iím Utrice Leid; the program is Talk Back; Iím filling in for Hugh Hamilton, who will be back tomorrow. The number to call is 212-209-2900. Weíll take your calls right after this break.

Utrice:  Yes indeedy, yes indeedy. That is Peter Tosh, with ďCome Together.Ē Instruction by song for the day. Youíre listening to WBAI, 99.5 FM in New York. Iím Utrice Leid; the program is Talk Back, and Iím sitting in for Hugh Hamilton, who will be back at his post tomorrow. Incidentally, I hope you are having a time and reflection on this day, the first day of January, 2001. Youíre on the air at 212-209-2900. Hello? Hello? Are you there? Are you there? Nobodyís there. All right. Thank you; letís see if this one works. Hello; youíre on the air. Hello?

Caller:  Hi, Utrice?

Utrice: Yes. Whoís calling?

Caller:  Joan, New York.

Utrice:  Thank you, Joan.

Caller:  Hi. When I came back from vacation to find all this stuff, and I, it just, you know, Iím listening to you today, and Iíve listened to you in the past, and suddenly all this stuff has erupted, and   itís very, very difficult to sort out. One of the things that is going through my mind as I listen to you, and that Iíve picked up bits and pieces of news from other people is that there is a group of people that I esteem very, very highly and the odds seem to be stacking up in that corner. Now, as you say, you donít like talking about this, that, and the other thing, and you donít [inaudible] to do it, but if youíre going to make your position absolutely clear to people who are trying to understand and trying to find where their loyalties lie, youíre gonna have to do it. Iím looking at a list of people that include Amy Goodman, Bernard White, Robert Knight, Al Lewis, Leslie Cagan, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, and now I hear today Gary Null is saying on his show that there have been moves to take his program off the air. How in hell am I supposed to stand against those odds--

Utrice:  Moves by whom?

Caller:  I beg your pardon?

Utrice:  Moves by whom?

Caller:  Repeat what you mean.

Utrice:  Gary Null made a statement that--

Caller:  A statement on his show today--

Utrice:  Thereíve been moves by whom to take--

Caller:  He did not elaborate on that, but I should think it would stand to reason that it is the same people who are removing all these other folks from the air.

Utrice:  Oh, thatís interesting.

Caller:  What is interesting?

Utrice:  That he would just simply say something like that without being--

Caller:  Well, is he under the same kind of gag rule that most of the programmers are under?

Utrice:  Have you heard anything to suggest a gag rule?

Caller:  Well, people have disappeared.

Utrice:  Therefore, thereís a gag rule?

Caller:  Robert Knight is, according to some of the information I have, was not allowed to do his most recent program; he found someone else at the controls.

Utrice:  I beg your pardon?

Caller:  Thatís what I hear. Robert Knight came out to do his program--

Utrice:  You know, thatís what I mean! People are *hearing* things. Where are you hearing these things?

Caller:  I got this on the Internet--

Utrice:  Exactly.

Caller: --that Robert Knight came up to do his program and he found someone, a James--was it Freund or something--at the controls?

Utrice:  Jim Freund. But it is not Robert Knightís program. Is it?

Caller:  I was under the impression it was his program.

Utrice:  Thatís what Iím saying. People are under, therefore, the wrong impression. Including, if thatís--

Caller:  Well, you know, but still, what I said still stands--

Utrice: No, no, not ďwell, still.Ē The point, Iím saying--

Caller:  --that all these people are in one corner, and you have you in the other corner saying that you canít talk about it.

Utrice:  And thereís a reason. There is a reason.

Caller:  Now if you want us, if you want us to understand whatís going on and you want a fair review, then I think you have to open up and start saying why what is happening is happening.

Utrice:  I am saying that I have been quiet; I have been, in fact, silent throughout all of the misinformation and disinformation that has been disseminated by allegedly responsible people; and I was looking for some sign that within particular pockets, that cooler heads would prevail, and there would be some recognition that despite what they think theyíre doing, theyíre engaging in fact in the destruction of the station by spreading and disseminating information that simply isnít correct.

Caller:  Well, I have here; I find here an e-mail and it says, ďAmy Goodman and Robert Knight reported for their regular shiftĒ--

Utrice:  Yes?

Caller:  ď--to find Jim Freund at the controls.Ē

Utrice:  Yes? Whatís wrong with that?

Caller:  ďHe said he had been asked to do the shift by Utrice Leid.Ē

Utrice:  Thatís correct.

Caller:  Well, their regular shift. That would mean their program, would it not?

Utrice:  Itís not *their* program.

Caller:  In the sense that nobodyís program is their own on the radio station? In what sense itís not their program?

Utrice:  It is a program on which the host was Jim Freund.

Caller:  Why have I never heard of him? I listen around the clock.

Utrice:  Well, then you need to listen a little harder. You can find him. Itís called ďHour of the WolfĒ; heís on, and--

Caller:  Well, I donít know why it would say then on this e-mail Robert Knight reported for--

Utrice: I know, and you donít know why it would say that, but it does say that, doesnít it?

Caller:  Yes, it does say he reported for his regular shift--

Utrice:  Right. Okay. So he reported for his regular shift--

Caller:  --to find Jim Freund at the controls.

Utrice:  And thereís nothing wrong with Jim Freund being at the controls; heís at the controls here before; and heís on the controls here every--

Caller:  But, you know-- All right, I think weíre into word games now.

Utrice:  No, no, no, no, no, no, no. We are not into word games; we are into misinformation.

Caller:  I canít believe, Utrice, that all of these people, of whom I respect--several at least of which are absolutely brilliant--are all mistaken by this mythical, this unannounced Svengali.

Utrice:  All right. Then we will make that person clear. Just wait.

Caller: I think that you must. Now in respect for you, because I donít want to come down in a camp unalterably opposed to you, until I have complete information.

Utrice:  Well, so far--

Caller:  But me, and probably thousands of other listeners are given to veer in that direction.

Utrice:  Well, I think that that is the sad thing. And that proves my point about the irresponsibility of certain broadcasters.

Caller:  And certainly--

Utrice:  And the vast majority of people doing programming here have taken what I consider to be a sober position. And that is, if you donít know whatís going on, then donít opine, and donít put out information, I heard a dreadful program here on Saturday, it was just dreadful, and riddled with inaccuracies, and it was done by someone with allegedly great credibility, but it was nonetheless a dreadful program.

Caller:  Well I think then, still, with this line-up of people whom I have revered for years, until you come out with the specifics, I am unalterably opposed to what is happening at BAI; I will not support what is happening at BAI, and certainly I absolutely deplore the midnight raid and the changing of the locks--

Utrice:  Well, what would you do? Do you, let me ask you, when you get an apartment, do you accept the lock thatís there?

Caller:  Now youíre getting down to who owns the station.

Utrice:  No, no, no, do you accept the lock thatís there? If you are going to inhabit--

Caller:  If itís my station, I would change it. Is it your station as opposed to these other peopleís?

Utrice:  In my capacity--

Caller:  If it were my apartment then I have the right to change the lock.

Utrice:  Well, itís, itís, it may be your apartment, but that doesnít mean you own it, does it?

Caller:  But it seems to-- Well, if Iím renting it then itís my right.

Utrice:  And itís my name on the lease--here.

Caller:  Yes, but I--

Utrice:  No, no ďyes, but.Ē It is my name that is on the lease here.

Caller:  But you are sharing that apartment with other people. I am not.

Utrice:  No, no. The other people have no legal responsibility for whatís going on in here now. I do. And my name is on that lease.

Caller:  Utrice, thatís a sleight of hand. No. No.

Utrice:  No, it is not sleight of hand; it is what-- You know, you want the facts; I give you the facts; and then you say that that is not the way itís supposed to be. My name is now on the lease. My name is on the lease, and I am responsible for what is in here. Thatís my charge. That is part of now my responsibility.

Caller:  You are responsible to upholding an ideal. You have-- [inaudible]

Utrice: You canít tell me--

Caller:  Insofar as--

Utrice:  You canít tell me, you canít tell me what my responsiblit--

Caller:  Insofar as I can tell--

Utrice:  Have you read-- Have you read my job description?

Caller:  Insofar as I can tell, you have opened the door to a Pacifica board that is increasingly--

Utrice:  You have fallen hook, line, and sinker for a line of propaganda that was--

Caller:  I have not been helped by your vagueness, by your mystery people--

Utrice:  Have you been helped by the inaccuracies that you have received so far.

Caller:  I donít view them as inaccuracies.

Utrice:  Naturally you wonít, because--

Caller:  Thatís exactly correct. So you have to [inaudible] sitting where you are, and you have to make things absolutely specific, because until then I cannot believe that these people are all wrong.

Utrice:  Have you demanded-- Have you demanded that, for example, the e-mail that you just read; have you demanded specificity and proof from the people who supplied you with that information?

Caller:  Havenít had time yet.

Utrice:  Oh, I see. But you accepted it as the truth, and it is on that basis that you are arguing with me.

Caller:  It is on the basis with all these people who are-- So far, because Iíve not been helped sufficiently by you because youíve been too vague, my feelings are with them. Also because I hear names--

Utrice:  Your feelings are with *them.*

Caller:  That is correct.

Utrice:  The whole point Iím making is that one individual has created the us and them.

Caller:  Utrice, these are not stupid people.

Utrice:  Precisely.

Caller: I donít believe that all of these brilliant people, at least three or four of them, have fallen hook, line, and sinker and been manipulated by this Svengali. I donít believe it.

Utrice:  All right. Youíre entitled to your belief. Thank you.

Caller:  All right.

Utrice:  Thank you, Joan. Hello, youíre on the air. This is WBAI, 99.5 FM in New York.

Caller:  Hi, good afternoon, Utrice.

Utrice:  Hello!

Caller:  Hi, this is Carl.

Utrice:  Hello, Carl.

Caller:  First-time caller.

Utrice: Oh, good! Thank you! [Carl laughs] Where you calling from? What an entrance to make, huh? [laughing]

Carl: [laughing] Oh, boy! Iím calling from the Bronx and as a matter of fact I want to say that I just...last week...one day last week stopped by BAI for the first time with the hope of seeing you to express solidarity with you, and Iím gonna say, congratulations....

Utrice:  Oh lord; I feel more like condolences [laughing].

Caller: [inaudible]...congratulations, because I am very upbeat; Iím optimistic....

Utrice:  So am I, by the way.

Caller:  You have a job to do, and I have all the confidence in the world that youíll do it, and youíll do it well, and with fairness, and with integrity.

Utrice:  Well, I thank you for that...statement. Thank you very much.

Caller:  About three weeks ago, I attended a...a concert [inaudible]...whatís her name--Odetta--

Utrice:  Odetta, yes.

Caller: Odetta was performing. And at the concert a petition was being circulated and, at the end of it, at the end of the concert, I approached Bernard that I was upset--for the first time I approached him [inaudible]...you know I canít sign this petition because I donít have enough background information, and he said to me so what do you know....I said all I know is what Iíve heard in commuting, morning and evening, and afternoon commute, thatís  your program and Utriceís program. And, to my dismay, he said something to me that I still donít believe. He said, Then why do you choose to believe what you hear in the afternoon? [Inaudible] And I said but, why do you come to that conclusion? And then he went on to say to me that, well, if you have a house and there are internal problems in that house, and someone has come to take the house, what would you do? Would you [inaudible] what is going on among your family members in the house, or would you try to push at bay [inaudible] the invader. So I said to him well, it depends, because, sometimes you might need to allow yourself [inaudible] the invader, because it depends what the aims of the invader are, the motive. And we left that there. But, I must say though that-- Iím just making reference to this because, I was so dismayed when he believed that after asking what I considered a very objective question--I try to get objectivity on these issues--he was boxing me in a corner to say that I was taking sides on what I heard in the afternoon.

Utrice:  And by that time I should say that the position that I had taken publicly was that we, being eroded from the inside, and that--

Caller:  I remember you saying that, yes.

Utrice:  --and that our problem for a long time has been internal, and it remains so. That was my position then. And even then there was resistance to it.

Caller:  But, you know, when he responded like that--and I donít want to make this into personal, but it is pertinent, what Iím about to say, at least I can say it that way--when he responded that way, the whole issue of IQ comes into it, in my mind, in my thoughts. Because--and it plants something in my mind that Iíve shared with my wife all along--is that, it seems to me that Bernard functioned more as a tail, and the motive of that tail is subjected to a dog wagging the tail. In a way I donít think he is totally responsible for his actions or inactions.

Utrice:  Yes. That is my position, incidentally.

Caller:  Okay. Furthermore, you know, a caller mentioned earlier--and this is something, too, I discuss at length with my wife--something that David Rothenberg-- He spoke about the issue of voting and you know different people that apply for the P job and by virtue of voting our [inaudible] and you were the person that was elected, and that selection was vetoed by the then manager-- And I would think that since democracy was at play there, and since Bernard is professing to be so righteous--so self-righteous--I hope heís listening--but Iím saying why, even if--or even though--Valerie chose to have selected him through an undemocratic process, why didnít he and those who, he, are in *his* corner--if I may describe as such--say to him but listen, we donít think that this is the thing to do. You know, let democracy take its place here. Why didnít he do that? Another issue, too, that has been on my mind is that on Friday morning, I think itís Murillo--

Utrice:  Yes. Mario Murillo.

Caller:  Right. And his program had Bernard, and--the ladyís name, I forget--on the program--

Utrice:  Yeah. Amy Goodman.

Caller:  [inaudible]

Utrice:  Yes. She was one.

Caller:  Okay. Anyway--

Utrice:  And I think others included John McDonough from Radio Free Erin, Matthew Finch, and Erroll Maitland.

Caller:  Okay. Mario did ask--if my memory serves me correctly--you know, asked of Bernard whether if, since they now say that the ball is in your court to rehire--which in my humble judgment I must say that I just donít think that is something you should consider, given the fact that these persons were laid off or fired by someone you might consider *your* superior--but he did ask of Bernard if he, if you were to rehire him, if he would accept the job. And his answer--and I will try to paraphrase as best I can--his answer was, well, Utrice Leid has got to go. Which in effect is saying that he is not prepared to work in the same space as Utrice Leid. Now, once he has done that, then I think that that is the leading thing in terms of whether you should even be concerned [about] rehiring the person, because this person has made it absolutely clear that itís you, Utrice, or I, Bernard. I do believe, and I do, and I also believe that a great percentage of the audience, of BAIís audience, believe--and I should also say *know* that they know--that you, Utrice, have far *more* contributed to the station and to us as listeners than Bernard has [inaudible] but, I could say the same thing about myself, that you Utrice have more contributed and more to give than I *could* at this juncture of my life. And we are not to be afraid to say that. And there is a gentleman who [inaudible] and he said, Something is wrong about us wanting *too* often as [inaudible]. I donít think we should. And I donít think Utrice Leidís about it. And for those who believe that you are a pawn in the hands of Pacifica, I think they are absolutely wrong. I think they are [inaudible] offering you this worthy position. And thatís all I have to say, Utrice.

Utrice:  Well, thank you very much, Carl.

Caller:  And, good luck.

Utrice:  Thank you, Iíll need it.

Caller:  And then, youíre a positive [inaudible]. Youíre in charge. [inaudible] And Iím right there with you. And for those who might think that they could be so disruptive that you wonít function, let it be understood that those of us who want you there, we are prepared to [inaudible] for those bad and distasteful thoughts. Have a good evening, and [inaudible].

Utrice:  Well, thank you, sir. I thank you very much for all that you have said, and for the spirit in which you have said it, and I thank all of you who have called today with your earnest desire to truly understand the situation, which we all admit is difficult. At the moment it produces a number of challenges that we must meet, and I think with bravery *and* with some [pause] commitment to telling the truth, we could somehow find our way close to a solution. Weíll tune out now; I want to thank you very much, Anastasia Barato, for engineering today. Coming up next is Behind the News; and Hugh Hamilton will be with you, God willing and the creek donít rise, right here on Talk Back tomorrow. Bye bye.
 
 


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